(Published June 30, 2019)
Nick Damus, a doorperson at 340 On the Park, has lived several lifetimes. Born in Haiti, he emigrated with his parents to New York City as a boy. When he grew up, he joined the Air Force, studied electronics and lived overseas in Italy.
He learned to speak Italian, adding that to his knowledge of French Kreyol, French, English and Spanish. After the Air Force, he became a French and Spanish teacher in New York City’s public school system.
“Life in New York became a bit challenging because a teaching job in the public school system is tough, so I wanted to do something else,” Damus explained.
He moved to Georgia, where he had relatives, and went back to school for network engineering. After graduation, he moved to Chicago where relatives in the city offered to help him find a job.
“I came here looking for a job as a computer network engineer,” Damus said. “That’s when the economy tanked and all the jobs went overseas. That’s how I ended up working as a security officer.”
That was at the now-defunct Chicago Place mall on the Mag Mile. But he didn’t stay there long. In 2007, 340 On the Park opened and needed door staff. Damus said a friend recommended him and he was hired. He started working there on the day the building opened. Finally, Damus found a job he loved.
“I’m the sole survivor,” he said, “the only one who’s been here [from the beginning] of all the staff.”
Damus said he loves the job because of the speed. It’s a busy building with 344 apartments. People are constantly coming and going through the lobby.
“You’re not [just] a doorman here,” he said. “You’re basically involved with everything. It’s very hectic. It’s very highly paced. It makes the day go by really quick. You’re on your toes a lot and you’re multitasking. And that’s what I like about it and why I’ve been here so long.”
While explaining this, a woman asked for help jumpstarting a car in the parking garage.
“Your communication skills and your customer service skills have to be up to par here,” he said after he helped the tenant. “It’s a challenge, but it’s a fun challenge.”
When he’s not helping residents and manning the door, Damus said he enjoys his hobbies.
“I read a lot and I watch movies,” he said. “I play guitar, a little bit of rock guitar. … It’s something that I’d like to be good at.”
But don’t look for Damus at open mics anytime soon.
“No, I’m not at that level at all,” he said.
To nominate your favorite doorperson, email firstname.lastname@example.org with the door person’s name and why you think they should be the doorperson of the month. Each winner will receive a $25 gift card to Mariano’s.